When Scott Doney and Jack McCarren travelled to the United States to study abroad and play the game they love, they had no idea where they would end up. Doney, from New Zealand, and McCarren, from Ireland, have taken very different paths to get to where they are, but neither would trade the experience for anything.
Doney has played three seasons with GRFC, and is now the all-time leading goal scorer for the club. McCarren joined the Boys in Blue this past season, and led a midfield stocked with talent to a playoff appearance.
Both received graduate assistant positions with Aquinas College to earn their Master’s Degree in Management and begin their coaching careers this Fall (Jack with the men and Scott with the women). So how did these two internationals end up in Grand Rapids? We sat down with them to learn more.
Thanks for sitting down with us. First, how did you end up in the United States?
Scott: I got recruited to come over and play and had the chance to play three years of division one and the last year in D2 at Midwestern State. I started at Marshall and then transferred to Buffalo, but they got rid of the program so I went down to Texas to play at Noah’s school.
Jack: I played a showcase in Dublin and there was a guy there that went to Martin Methodist in Tennessee. He hosted the showcase and then asked me to play knowing that the coach from Martin was there to see players. The coach got in contact with me the next few days and offered me a scholarship down in Tennessee.
Let’s jump into it. Do you like playing for GRFC?
Scott: It’s unlike any other team I’ve played with before. The environment you get to play in, the team set up, and the fans are special and its why I keep coming back every year. This is my third year now and I was struggling to find other places to play like this and I am enjoying every moment I get out there.
Jack: This was my first year with the club but I loved every minute of it. I loved the professionalism, the high standard and high-quality players that GRFC has, and I’ve been very impressed with the organization as a whole.
What are some of the things you like about Grand Rapids?
Scott: I can relate it really well to my hometown in New Zealand. Back home we would head to the lakes in the summertime and go to the beach a lot. Also, I like how green it is, which also reminds me of home so that helps. There is just so much to do and a new adventure to go on, somewhere to go or something to do all the time. I really like it here.
Jack: It’s probably the same for me, obviously a previous experience for me was being down south so it’s my first time spending a lot of time up north and coming to Grand Rapids was a whole new experience to me but I’ve loved every minute of it. I love the downtown, how lively it is. And how everyone is sort of connected together and everybody knows each other and the fact that it is a big, growing city it’s awesome to see GRFC get so much support from the thousands of fans at games.
So, you both got GA opportunities with Aquinas, what have you learned through that experience?
Scott: I’ve been very lucky that Lewis has taken me under his wing and given me the opportunity to work with him. He has already taught me so much in regards to how much goes into coaching college soccer, from recruiting, to planning trips, changing game tactics, I am learning every day and I have been very fortunate to have this opportunity so I am very grateful for that.
Jack: Coach Veal from the mens side offered me the same position at AQ and just becoming that leader for the team and that extra that you need from the coaches. Obviously, you have your captains but you need a few leaders at the top who can figure out the different things Scott was pointing out and the attributes of college soccer. Whether it be finances or training there is so much that goes into running a college team and I have tried to look at it more from a managerial view as opposed to the playing view which is interesting and very beneficial for me.
We know you aren’t looking forward to winter, but now that you are in Grand Rapids full time, are there certain things you are looking forward to?
Scott: To be very honest I am excited about the GRFC season. I love being around Grand Rapids and the support you feel in the summer when you are playing is something you can’t really put into words. The friends that we have made, the people you meet are so friendly around here and I really enjoy spending time with the guys who play and the whole staff and all the people who are there to help us succeed as players. I want to make the most of my time here and we will see where we go from there.
Jack: I would mirror what Scott said. The fact that we have been chosen for this two-year program means we have some stability and will be here for a few years gives us a chance to plan a bit. I am very excited to start the season again as last year I was new to it but now that I know what to expect from the group and feel more comfortable here, I can’t wait to get back to work after I visit my family over Christmas. Looking forward to that for sure.
Anything else you want to add for everyone reading this?
Scott: I just really want to thank everyone out there who has given me this opportunity in Grand Rapids. Matt, Lewis, and everyone else who are behind the scenes I appreciate it and we couldn’t have asked for a better situation on the other side of the world so we are really thankful for that.
Jack: Exactly. You guys have taken us in under your wings and we are very grateful for that we will continue to keep working hard for the club and the fans and the people of Grand Rapids as well.
We want to thank Scott Doney and Jack McCarren for sitting down with us and look forward to seeing them on the pitch again next summer!